Free Pro Basketball Picks: Los Angeles Lakers at Denver Nuggets

Los Angeles Lakers at Denver Nuggets
Thursday, 11/11/10, 10:30 PM EDT, TV:  TNT
Opening Point Spread:  Los Angeles -3
Current Betting Line:  Los Angeles -3
Opening Total:  210
Current Total:  211
Current Moneyline:  Los Angeles -155 / Denver +135

Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony will need to be great to pull off a home underdog victory tonight against the undefeated Los Angeles Lakers

Los Angeles is aiming to start a season 9-0 for just the second time in franchise history after earning a 99-94 home win over the Minnesota Timberwolves last time out.  “We let this team stay in the game,” said forward Matt Barnes about the victory.  The Lakers will need a much better effort in tonight’s game against a team that is always tough in the Mike High City.  “Denver always plays us tough out there, so it’s going to be a huge challenge for us,” said star Kobe Bryant.  Many insiders have noted that Bryant is wearing much less protection over his arthritic right index finger this season.  He is averaging 24.1 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, while playing just 31.8 minutes a game so far.  Last season, the five-time champion guard averaged 22.0 points on 37.5 percent shooting against the Nuggets.  The team is 2-0 ATS on the road this season and currently a smallish road favorite on the NBA lines page.

The Lakers dropped last season’s series with denver 1-3 after taking the previous season series from the Nuggets 3-1.  Los Angeles is 6-4 in its last 10 overall regular season meetings with Denver and 25-13 all-time under the direction of head coach Phil Jackson.  This is the first time under Jackson that the Lakers have started a season 8-0 or better.  One reason that this team may be more dangerous in the eyes of opponents this season is their improved 3-point shooting, currently sitting at an impressive 43.5 percent for the season.  The leaders from long range are Lamar Odom (10-15), Steve Blake (14-28) and Shannon Brown (12-24).

Denver returns home after suffering an embarrassing 144-113 loss at Indiana and will need to improve upon its perimeter defense to be competitive in this high-profile matchup.  The Nuggets allowed the Pacers to hit 16 of 30 3-pointers on Tuesday, while also letting them connect on 20 of 21 shots in a 54-point third quarter.  “Hopefully we will use this to respond well to the Lakers,” said head coach George Karl.  “This goes in the bad column.  I’m not going to go negative.”  A positive in the defeat was the play of guard Ty Lawson, who scored 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting, entering the game averaging just 6.6 points a contest.  The team is 4-4 ATS this season and is 20-9 ATS after a loss by 10 points or more.

The Nuggets will need a big offensive game from Carmelo Anthony tonight after scoring just 13 points in Indiana, snapping a streak of nine straight 20-plus scoring games.  Nobody knows this more than Bryant in analyzing tonight’s contest.  “He can shoot the long ball, shoot the mid-range, he can post up,” he commented on Anthony.  “He’s a complete player.”  Denver has won four of the last five regular season meetings against the Lakers and six of the last eight non-playoff meetings in the Pepsi Center.  It’s important to note though, Los Angeles is the only team in the NBA that owns a winning record against the Nuggets in the city of Denver with a 41-31 all-time mark.

Bettors will find that the Lakers are 3-8-1 ATS as a road favorite of 0.5 to 4.5 points, while the Nuggets are 3-8-3 ATS as an underdog.

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